Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

MOCRU and its partner Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) have begun a study to identify areas in Myanmar where Burkholderia pseudomallei is present in the soil and where people are at risk of melioidosis, a difficult to diagnose deadly bacterial disease.

Composite photo of researchers analysing the soil for melioisodis bacteria (B. pseudomallei) in Myanmar

MOCRU Director Frank Smithuis is Principal Investigator for the study, which will take 2,000 samples from 200 locations across Myanmar and then look at hospitals where B. pseudomallei seems prevalent and see if it can confirm melioidosis in patients. The Dept of Medical research will do the microbiology for the study.

A highly pathogenic bacterium commonly found in soil and water in South and Southeast Asia and endemic in northeast Thailand and northern Australia, B. pseudomallei causes melioidosis. Contracted through the skin, lungs or by drinking contaminated water, melioidosis is difficult to diagnose as it mimics other diseases. B. pseudomallei is resistant to a wide range of antimicrobials, and a cause of sepsis with a high mortality rate (50-90% depending on level of care available).  

Although melioidosis was first described in Rangoon (Yangon) in 1912, the distribution of B. pseudomallei in soil and the extent of melioidosis in Myanmar remains largely unknown. Local studies have confirmed the presence of B. pseudomallei in soil and confirmed clinical cases of melioidosis in Yangon. Other melioidosis cases have been found on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Funded by MAM, the study will run for 6-12 months and contribute to the global mapping of B. pseudomallei.

A landmark 2016 study by MORU’s Direk Limmathurotsakul that predicted that melioidosis is likely to be present in many more countries than previously thought, estimated that there may have been up to 6,247 melioidosis cases resulting in 3,687 deaths in Myanmar in 2015.

-Text and photos courtesy of Frank Smithuis and Liz Ashley

Similar stories

Congratulations to Professor Sir David Warrell, appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George!

David Warrell, MORU founding director, has been appointed by the Queen ‘Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to global Health Research and Clinical Practice’. Please join us in congratulating Sir David on receiving this richly deserved high honour!

Laos’ first Pint of Science: warty newts, COVID, AI for Instagram, and more!

Organised by a grass-root community of thousands of scientists across the world, Pint of Science 2022 allows researchers in 25 countries and over 800 cities to share their latest findings with lay folk in interesting, informal settings. Lao PDR joined the global Pint of Science family on Monday 9 May, when the first-ever Pint of Science Laos kicked off!

Patient recruitment on track in Oxford-led DeTACT trial of safe, effective drug combinations to prevent the spread of artemisinin and multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa

Today is World Malaria Day. The global fight against malaria is at a critical point. No new antimalarial drugs are expected in the near future, and if multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria becomes established in East Africa and spreads to other parts of Africa, millions will be at risk of drug-resistant malaria infection and death. The development of triple artemisinin-based combination therapies aims to prevent or delay the emergence of artemisinin and multi-drug resistant malaria in Africa.

PRIORITISE study team publishes results, now seeks partners

In regions where few people have received Covid-19 vaccines, health systems remain vulnerable to surges in SARS-CoV-2 infections. During the delta-wave of COVID-19 in India, for example, healthcare facilities and staff across the country struggled to cope with the surge in the number of cases of COVID-19 due to a shortage of hospital beds for people with severe cases, plus shortages of medicines and limited human resources.

Under the Mask, drama film based on testimonies of tuberculosis patients

In 2022, tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global health problem, particularly in developing countries. On the Thai-Myanmar border, TB is an important problem among migrants, a vulnerable, very mobile population, with unstable, often difficult living conditions, insecure incomes, and poor access to health services.

TACT-CV study shows artemether–lumefantrine plus amodiaquine an effective treatment for multidrug-resistant malaria in GMS

A triple artemisinin-based combination therapy (TACT) of artemether-lumefantrine plus amodiaquine (AL+AQ) for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in areas with a high prevalence of artemisinin resistance is a well-tolerated, effective treatment for multidrug-resistant parasites, say a team of MORU-led researchers.